Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day

Like many other parts of the world, Cairns knew how to celebrate when the war in the Pacific was over in 1945.  It was called VP Day (Victory in the Pacific) and was celebrated globally on 15 August 1945.

Nearly 75 years ago, Cairns residents joined Australian troops to turn out in their thousands in the city centre as the “town went delirious with joy” according to The Cairns Post the next day.

“Dignity was thrown to the winds” as spontaneous celebrations took over the city streets.

“…. The main idea was to create noises – joyous noises … with one accord the people rushed to the streets, linked arms with the nearest passers-by and ran around and around the block shouting to their heart’s content,” the newspaper report said.

For two hours the impromptu procession continued around Shields, Spence, Lake, and Abbott Streets, gathering more trucks and vehicles as it went.

Because coloured streamers were not available, The Cairns Post provided the crowd with large quantities of coloured paper which was draped on cars and trucks. It was noted afterwards that all that was left after the event were littered streets, sore heads and an old dog.

An official procession and ceremony was held in Cairns the next day (16 August) which drew one of the biggest crowds ever seen in the city.

Thanks to Bruce Downie, who was stationed here from 1944 as a signaller with the 41St Squadron of Martin Mariner Flying Boast, we have these great images of VP Day celebrations in Cairns.

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Last updated: 23 April 2020